Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gary Lachman: Henri Bergson on the Mind-Body Problem

In Matter and Memory (1896), Bergson took on the mind-body problem, arguing against the idea of "psychophysiological parallelism," which maintained that every psychological fact is determined by the physical fact that accompanies it. For instance, he argued that aphasia was not loss of memory per se caused by a physical lesion in the brain, but rather that the organic damage simply prevented the memory, an immaterial "fact," from being expressed, much as a broken television set prevents a program from being seen but does not affect the program itself. Hence Bergson came to the conclusion that consciousness uses the brain and is not, as contemporary philosophers of the mind like John Searle assert, produced by it. It was insights such as this that drew Bergson into an interest in the paranormal and the "night side of nature."

Lachman, Gary. A Secret History of the Consciousness. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2003: 21-22.

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